Food for thought: have you ever wondered about the origins of the illustrious dessert of gooseberry fool?
Well, maybe it was first served to King George III of England at a lavish dinner? Or could it be an invention of the overindulgent Victorians? Or just possibly, this dish first graced the likes of a medieval banqueting table? Indeed, a farrago of possibilities, which Miss Windsor investigated thoroughly and has endeavoured to describe her findings right here on this page.
Darlings, now I must express that I'm “tickled pink” (Oh, I say!) to present this vibrant and sweet, yet tart and creamy summertide dessert created with Grandmother Josie’s favourite summer fruits - Miss Windsor's Pink & Spicy Gooseberry Raspberry Fool – By Jove! that’s a bit of a mouthful.
I must say, up until recent times I’ve only ever consumed gooseberry fool in the form of a yogurt from Marks & Spencer’s – our trusty British household brand. And although a gooseberry fool-esque yogurt may sound exceedingly delightful; I’m sure you’ll agree that nothing can beat the real thing!
So naturally, I was eager to revive this frightfully British (or English!), quintessential dessert of gooseberry fool - with a bit of a Miss Windsor twist, of course! Therefore, following a jolly good flick through my food history archives, I eventually stumbled upon a recipe for gooseberry fool in my 1903 edition of Mrs Beeton’s One Shilling Cookery Book.
I say I do hope your taste buds are now fizzing with anticipation, and if sufficiently aroused and eager to proceed, then please join Miss Windsor for a culinary jaunt into the past and learn how to recreate this scrumptious scoop of food history. Prepared with the most superior ingredients of posh pink gooseberries (instead of the green common type!), ravishing raspberries, sweetened whipped cream, and a smattering of ground ginger and cinnamon.
Oh, and whilst you’re here, why not indulge yourself with a titbit or two about this rather spiffing dessert – the very best of British, yet some folks would say English, fayre! And just one more thing, it has come to my attention that gooseberry fool is a rather unusual, yet chucklesome name for a dessert, because for some bizarre reason or another it appears to tickle the American’s – I say, they’re quite an eccentric bunch!
Moving swiftly on, according to Grandmother Josie, my 1903 edition of Mrs Beeton’s One Shilling Cookery Book originally belonged to my great great grandmother Georgina, who would’ve been 42 years old at the time and cooked for a gaggle of 8 children using a “range cooker”. Roll onto 1905 and at the grand age of 45 years old my great great grandmother, Georgina delivered her last baby into this world - my great grandmother Gertie.
Now just to set the record straight, the recipe for gooseberry fool which I discovered in my 1903 edition of Mrs Beeton’s One Shilling Cookery Book, actually first appeared in the 1861 edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. However, it’s difficult to confirm if my recreation of Mrs Beeton’s version is definitely of Victorian origin because if the truth be told, our rather frabjous gooseberry fool has quite a fruity history………..read on to find out more.
Darlings, did you know that our beloved and terribly popular gooseberry fool was enjoyed by our forebearers as far back as, well according to my modern mentor: the jolly old internet - the 14th or 15th century? “I say, Miss Windsor, what a fascinating fact!” Indeed, my dears, but evidently there’s a huge time difference of a whole century to argue over, yet it’s highly possible that this type of “foole” (as it was once called) commenced its culinary journey as a medieval dish! So far, there are no recorded recipes that could uphold this claim.
Thankfully, one can rest assure that many recipes for gooseberry fool have been traced to the 17th century - 1658 to be exact! Although, it is of great belief to some that there’s an elusive recipe stowed away somewhere that dates back to 1598; which I dare say, has been tucked away safely for years, probably inside Grannie’s drawers (Oh, I say!) or in a hidey-hole of a similar kind!
Also, I was intrigued to discover that our fabulous fool can be made with either a cooled custard-like base or whipped sweetened cream. You see, over the years, keen cooks from across the country would’ve rustled up this classic dish with either ingredient – I have only experienced the latter. And you’ll be pleased to know this dish is much easier to make with whipped cream unless one succumbs to the modern-day convenience of instant powdered custard!
Darlings, now purely for your delectation, Miss Windsor excitedly presents a couple of recipes from two distinctly different era’s – a recipe from 1658 notes a custard base (following the execution of King Charles I, the year of 1658 was the last year Oliver Cromwell was the leader of the republic of England), and a Georgian (or Regency) recipe from 1802 favours whipped cream, which was written during the reign of King George III.
Oh, and before it slips my mind, you'll be pleased to know that I recreated this delectable dessert following traditional methods - which involved an old-fashioned pudding basin and potato masher - How thrilling! You see, Mrs Beeton suggests to steam the fruits in a “jar”, however, please refrain from doing so, because when Miss Windsor followed her instruction the jar cracked then smashed to smithereens – a culinary catastrophe, indeed! So, a sturdy pudding basin will certainly do the job!
Darlings, and before one retires to one’s parlour for a well-deserved G & T, please read my final word of advice: serve your gooseberry fools’ in style - may I suggest a matching set of vintage bone China teacups, or if one must, in tiddly yet elegant ceramic vessels!
I say, these exquisite, Haas and Czjzek, vintage teacups, as showcased above, once belonged to the rather wonderful and beauteous Valeria Wallace - How spiffing!
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY MISS WINDSOR - EXCEPT FOR THE PHOTO OF GRANDMA GEORGINA & VALERIE WALLACE.
Miss Windsor’s Pink & Spicy
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